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Low-Intensity Ultrasound Ineffective for Tennis Elbow

Treatment added to long list of interventions that fail to provide benefit

MONDAY, May 8 (HealthDay News) -- Pulsed low-intensity ultrasound therapy (LIUS), which has been shown to help fracture healing in humans and tendon repair in animals, is not an effective treatment for chronic lateral epicondylitis, according to a study in the May issue of the journal Rheumatology.

Andrew J.K. Ostor, M.D., of Cambridge University NHS Trust in the U.K., and colleagues recruited 55 subjects between the ages of 18 and 80 who had lateral epicondylitis for at least six weeks and had failed at least one first-line treatment, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroid injection. The patients were randomized to receive either LIUS or placebo as a self-administered treatment delivered for 20 minutes each day over the course of 12 weeks.

The study's primary endpoint of at least a 50 percent improvement in elbow pain after 12 weeks was achieved in slightly more of the active treatment group (64 percent) than the placebo group (57 percent), but the results were not statistically significant.

"Multiple interventional trials for chronic lateral epicondylitis have not shown any benefit for active treatment over placebo. These studies assessed a variety of modalities, including ultrasound, pharmacological and physical therapies," the authors write. "It is not possible to directly compare the outcome of our trial with these previous studies; however, a common conclusion is the lack of distinguishable benefit from active intervention."

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